Could magic mushrooms help treat addiction? UAB researcher wants to know


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — For years, Dr. Peter Hendricks has been surrounded by transcendent experiences.

The UAB professor grew up in what he known as a “family of the saved” with a theologian mom and the numerous non secular experiences he discovered to be transformative.

“I used to be actually given this present of being raised in that home with devotion,” mentioned Hendricks, professor of public well being at UAB.

In a while, he took an interest within the idea of individuals utilizing hallucinogenic medicine to realize the identical transcendent experiences non secular individuals had.

“In some ways, it was like Paul on the road to Damascus and, for many individuals, the concept you possibly can change instantly and completely,” he mentioned.

It was this fascination in addition to his personal analysis into substance abuse and habit that led Hendricks to start learning how psilocybin, the lively ingredient present in “magic mushrooms,” may very well be used to assist deal with these with cocaine habit. Hendricks and his workforce first started the challenge in 2016.

In line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cocaine was concerned in a single out of 5 overdose deaths in 2017 and there are reportedly 5 million nationwide who actively use the drug.

“I need to have a greater therapy for habit than we do,” he mentioned.

During the last a number of years, different scientists have studied how hallucinogenic medicine like psilocybin can deal with habit. Latest trial research involving the drug’s impact on treating alcoholism and smoking have produced preliminary findings pointing to lowered dependence.

“We’ve got rather a lot that works and possibly this may very well be one thing that would work,” he mentioned.

Throughout a session, individuals are solely given the drug as soon as. For the subsequent 4 to 6 hours, they expertise the consequences of psilocybin as they lie on a mattress with eye shades and headphones on as they take heed to a playlist curated by Johns Hopkins College psychologist Dr. Invoice Richards to guide people as they experience the effects of psilocybin.

After the unwanted side effects have concluded, Hendricks and his workforce ask individuals about how they felt and what their expertise with the drug was like. Three to 6 months later, they observe up with them to verify in.

To this point, Hendricks mentioned neither he or his workforce have needed to intervene in any of the periods. Nonetheless, they work to make sure that each medical precaution is taken.

“You possibly can’t overstate that these experiences will be actually intense,” he mentioned. “If we need to use the time period drugs, it’s very highly effective drugs and it deserves our respect. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to take it flippantly.”

In 2018, Hendricks offered preliminary outcomes from the primary 10 individuals to participate within the research. Amongst his findings thus far, Hendricks discovered that after the three to six-month interval, those that took the drug skilled greater life satisfaction, much less despair and extra abstinent days from cocaine than those that had taken the placebo.

Hendricks mentioned one facet of drug habit as a psychological dysfunction is that it provides the addict tunnel imaginative and prescient by way of their priorities. He mentioned that oftentimes, cocaine addicts are fascinated by when they may have the ability to get their subsequent excessive.

“When somebody has a psych expertise, their horizons are instantly broadened they usually can see,” he mentioned. “You’re instantly within the presence of one thing so huge, you neglect about that tunnel imaginative and prescient.”

Over the previous few years, cities like Denver and Washington D.C. have decriminalized psilocybin and Oregon lately legalized the drug for therapeutic makes use of. Hendricks mentioned that whereas he’s not advocating for psilocybin to be legalized, he’s in favor of making an attempt to know if it may be used to assist individuals.

Hendricks hopes to conclude his trial by Could.

Hendrick mentioned he’s nonetheless recruiting topics for the research. Those that undergo from cocaine habit and are enthusiastic about participating can achieve this by calling 205-975-7721.


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